Downtown will soon see an increase of new crosswalk timers just in time for the influx of pedestrians that comes with the holiday shopping season.
The timers count down the time pedestrians have left to cross the street when the light is red. Mayor Darwin Hindman, who spearheaded the effort, said theywould help improve downtown’s image as friendly for walking.
“Downtown is primarily a pedestrian area, so we have to make it very appealing to them,” he said. “Nobody buys things in cars, so making pedestrians more comfortable would be very good for downtown.”
Carrie Gartner of the Downtown Columbia Associations hailed the timers as another improvement to downtown’s pedestrian environment.
“As far as pedestrian safety, they would definitely be welcome,” she said. “We want to make sure we have a pedestrian-friendly environment downtown.”
Though Hindman originally wanted the timers installed by Thanksgiving Day, Richard Stone of the Columbia Public Works Department said that’s impossible.
“I can’t really point to a definite time frame,” Stone said. “Within the next month or so, we’ll get approval from city council and get them installed.”
The locations of the five new timers have not been determined, Stone said. Each will cost about $4,000.
The city has already installed one timer at Broadway and Garth Avenue in front of the new Columbia Public Library.
“The timer there has met with universal positive response,” Stone said.
In addition to the new timers, Gartner cited other recent improvements downtown.
“We have a whole package of aesthetic improvements, including brick crosswalks, planters, new benches and street lights and other decorative fixtures,” she said. “We’re continuing to work with the city to make downtown more appealing.”